United StatesEnvironmental ProtectionAgencyOffice of WaterWashington, D.C.EPA 832-F-99-063September 1999
WastewaterTechnology Fact Sheet
Disinfection is considered to be the primarymechanism for the inactivation/destruction of pathogenic organisms to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases to downstream users and theenvironment. It is important that wastewater beadequately treated prior to disinfection in order forany disinfectant to be effective. Table 1 lists somecommon microorganisms found in domesticwastewater and the diseases associated with them.Ozone is produced when oxygen (O
) molecules aredissociated by an energy source into oxygen atomsand subsequently collide with an oxygen molecule toform an unstable gas, ozone (O
), which is used todisinfect wastewater. Most wastewater treatmentplants generate ozone by imposing a high voltagealternating current (6 to 20 kilovolts) across adielectric discharge gap that contains anoxygen-bearing gas. Ozone is generated onsitebecause it is unstable and decomposes to elementaloxygen in a short amount of time after generation.Ozone is a very strong oxidant and virucide. Themechanisms of disinfection using ozone include:•Direct oxidation/destruction of the cell wallwith leakage of cellular constituents outsideof the cell.•Reactions with radical by-products of ozonedecomposition.•Damage to the constituents of the nucleicacids (purines and pyrimidines).•Breakage of carbon-nitrogen bonds leadingto depolymerization.
TABLE 1 INFECTIOUS AGENTSPOTENTIALLY PRESENT IN UNTREATEDDOMESTIC WASTEWATER
(4 spp.)Shigellosis (bacillarydysentery)
Enteroviruses (72 types, e.g.,polio, echo, and coxsackieviruses)Gastroenteritis,heart anomalies,meningitisHepatitis A virusInfectious hepatitisNorwalk agentGastroenteritisRotavirusGastroenteritisSource: Adapted from Crites and Tchobanoglous, 1998.